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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  December 28, 2009 6:15am-7:00am EST

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the former book editor of the
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sun sentinel and free-lance writer, chaunce may. [applause] >> now you are going to hear some more about the greatness that is tracy kidder. we live in something of a nonfiction aged nowadays. reality dominates television. documentary said never been more popular and movies and the memoir has replaced the novel as the dominant form of creative fiction. again despite the rich outpouring of fine non-fiction writing in recent years the case could be made that tracy kidder may be our very best nonfiction writer. he is in fact the very definition of the literary journals, blending the records recording of a reporter with a sympathetic imagination of the novelist and the stylistics skill of a master craftsman. tracy kidder has produced work in the highest order since his
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early years reporting on the vietnam war for the "atlantic monthly." his first book, the soul of the new machine, thoughtful humanizing look at the emerging commuter evolution come akeem maturate reviews and achieve the rest of distinctions that won both the pulitzer prize and the national book award. since then mr.. has worked steadily on compressively varied subject matter. house takes this into the very heart of the american dream for the u.s. mr.. describes the day today frustrations and triumphs of his own attempt to build a home. among schoolchildren, mr. kidders spent five months in the racially mixed custom of this great teacher, to show in especially till what is wrong and what is right with their educational system. in hometown, published in 2000 he cast his eye on an american town of 30,000 which is dying main street and its cast and
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crew like eccentric politicians and police officers. mountains beyond mountains published in 2000 is the story of a doctor, a harvard professor the shows it is possible to hel the most desperate of poor people in places like haiti, peru, cuba and russia. i won't tell you much about his new book, "strength in what remains," but the "new york times" wrote of it that mr.. has a casual mastery of complex topics in this book is perhaps as finest an examination of the nature human charity and good will. as the "baltimore sun" said, tracy kidder is a master of nonfiction narrative. please welcome tracy kidder. [applause] >> thank you. it is nice to be here. i am going to talk a while and readed little and then i'm going to show you some pictures.
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i am afraid that this story has already been told but i'm going to tell it again. a young medical student named deogratis merely survives the onset of civil war in his native country, this mali's central african nation of burgundy. he survived because he left the door to his room open and the men who would have killed him assumed he had already fled. he made a six month long escape from burundi, and then from the genocide in rwanda and back to burundi and by accident he got transported to new york city. he arrived at jfk with $200 in his pocket, no english, and these the obtained under false pretenses although that has been long since fix, no friends or relations and memories of course so fresh that he sometimes confused past and present.
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his first trip on a subway, he got lost for most of the day. at night deese lupton central park. then one day sit-in near despair he delivered groceries to a small catholic church or the mat and it acts contemplative none that decided what he needed was a family and said that defined him one so doggedly that sometimes deo wished he would quit but finally succeeded. he was essentially adopted by childless american couple, painter and sociologists, neither young nor rich but big hearted interbraid obviously and less than two years after landing in new york, he was enrolled as an undergraduate at columbia university. i was struck by the story the first time i heard it, struck by its various remarkable features, by its strum of course. among other things, it opened up for me a sense of wonder.
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having heard what deo winthrop i felt there anyway hoped i would never again look at the anonymous faces in quite the same way particularly the faces of people with foreign accents in places like new york, janitors, taxi drivers, and young men delivering groceries. who are they really? what memories and dreams to they carry? what abilities that they never get to use? but but jeremy two deo's story first of all, what made me think i might want to try to write about this was something rather small. telling me about this time of homelessness he mentioned before he headed for bed in central park he would look all around to make sure that no strangers were watching because anyone who saw him entering the park it that late hour would guess that he was homeless. when he told me this i thought of my daughter. once coming years ago when she was a young teenager on a trip to new york, she started to
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cross the busy street against the light. my wife yelled that thereinafter word in cold fury my daughter said, thanks a lot mom for running my reputation in new york city. [laughter] i knew that deo's story which are write then in more than that i recognize his feelings and not just to my daughter. i could imagine myself in his place, fearing not be, fearing the eyes of strangers, fearing not the darkness one of the parker what might happen to me if i surrendered myself to sleep there, but the distain a pity of strangers who would never be anything but strangers and feeling this i thought i could find a way into his story if he decided he would let me tell it, as he eventually did. the other day someone told me i was a purposeful writer. i think that is a word.
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i think she meant writing aims to expose and analyze important problems and offer persuasive solutions but somehow it seems important to say that i don't deserve that compliment. other writers do. riders to understand that the world's recurring catastrophes, the grossly inequitable distribution of health for instance or the bens flexible war and genocide aren't accidents but the products of socioeconomic and political structures with histories that can be honored to. >> writers focus their books on large groups of people. they may pause know and then to describe individuals but as a rule they do this in order to illustrate points they want to make about what seems more important to them which is the fates of populations. i respect the motives that often lie behind that kind of writing. i have learned from people who write the radically. i am forever in their debt, but
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i have a hard time bending my mind around generalizations. often a la king think about are the exceptions. tim meeted shares scalage big subjects like genocide and epidemic disease makes them in comprehensible through any single approach. i don't think one could claim to understand, begin to understand an event like the great depression only by reading about a fictional families experience in "the grapes of wrath," but i also don't think you can begin to have a sense of what the holocaust was without reading it least one account of an individual life that was enmeshed in the holocaust in a great novel like the periodic table for instance. story escambia wendell on the in normandy and enormousness, a means for william blake to see a world in the grain of sand. we are born responding to the
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stories they think. there one way we organize the world's chaos and when we pass that information on from generation to generation. the best stories are living monuments, the memories that have to be preserved and they don't need any other justification. by training all the dickens my mother used to read me and by inclination and probably by deficiency i understand the world best true stories and because the engine of any story is human character, i spent most of my years not as a right here looking first of all not for subjects but for characters, a small town cop whom i first met because i was speeding. my wife met him later that same day for the same reason. [laughter] and he did not give her a ticket. is interested me.
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i soon discovered that he didn't usually give women tickets because he did not like to see women cry. [laughter] there was a pair of old men who were in a nursing home room, who were spending their time in the vestibule to eternity doing something more interesting and difficult than playing bingo which was making friends for a good team of computer engineers were trying to build a new machine essentially gives the company switches. i remember my interest in us engineers quiken when one of the team took me aside and began to tell me stories about what he called the wars. he used all the reichsmarschall language and talked about people who shot from the hip and said there was blood on the floor and as near as i could tell he was talking about the creation of a mobile plastic boxes. on one occasion i did set out to find a person in a profession in elementary schoolteacher but once i found her in a grubby
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school in a rundown of massachusetts mill town, what i set out to do was to tell the story of the year in sight for classroom but that story happened to reveal some general truths about the problems of public education in america, so much the better i felt but it would have been impossible it least for me to generalize that teacher and her class so vividly alive in front of me. i once wrote a book about the building of the house, an idea i got from having been my own incompetent, nearly suicidal carpenter for a time. [laughter] but what fascinated me once i got into the project for the carters and the homeowners and architects in the relations among them, i am pinochet toile without sexual connotations. my book mountains beyond mountains really began when i ran into dr. paul farmer by accident in haiti and my new book, "strength in what remains" began in much the same way when
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i met deogratis. in both cases i was interested in initially not the shoes that interested most men, but in the outlines of their lives which stqt5t to this book of mine, i don't
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feel entirely confident about any of my answers but i do no it is not about africa, conceived by many of us americans as one fast, dysfunctional country. i know i didn't want to make burundi seem exotic. i want to make comprehensible. we hear about mass slaughter in distant countries and we imagined murder and mayhem to find those locales. i wanted the back of my mind anyway, i hope that his story would humanize our view of burundi and also open up a part of new york that seemed designed to be invisible, the service entrances of the upper east side in the camping sites that the people make in central park. certainly, this book has to do with war and genocide and with courage and endurance, the generosity of strangers, the uses in diseases of memory but we are to know the basic truths about those subjects. warring genocide are deplorable, human beings are capable of
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great resilience in charity happens, that memory can be an ungovernable torment but what i wanted without ever telling myself this exactly was to allow readers to experience those facts not as truisms but as we experience them in our own lives, to experience them through deo. the riders i admire alta this. they make the world knew again. i think the story teller possible job is to catch the reflection of individual human beings each by definition unique on the page, but the richest factual narrative is always have something in addition. if you are drawn first of all to the individual characters you are also drawn of course to try to understand the world's then have been especially the subject that preoccupy them. ines deo's the main subjects were and are public health and medicine and the ravich date of this country after 13 years of civil war.
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history has a-- that still amazes me. when i first began following him around he had permanent residency and the soon to become an american citizen. >> didn't have to go back to burundi where public health is all but nonexistent and even now patients who can't pay their bills are detained, a president-- imprisoned essentially in the hospital's, imprisoned without fudr care. but mainly because of those ills, deo returned continually and amid the post-war wreckage with the help of his legions of american and burundi and friends.com he created an organization called village health works which is a public health system free to those who cannot pay in a rural filip. this village health works is affiliated with partisan health, a much larger organization but village health has to raise its on monday. building and staffing a clinic
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in a desperately poor country is not easy. it was a pile of rocks when i visited with deo and by the fall of 2008 it was providing food to the hungriest people in the area and clean water to all of them and was also a medical center which in its first year and a half of operation treated 28,000 different patients, most of them for free. there still is nothing like this operation elsewhere in burr in the. people come for help from all over the country. some people come on week-long treks from the other country, from the congo and tanzania and some visitors said come out for medical help but only to look to the clinic. when deo asked one of these travelers why he had come the man replied, to see america. when i first heard that i thought this was a misconception for us to live up to but when i heard president obama's speech
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in ghana, i thought a little differently. if you recall he imagined a new partnership between the united states in africa, one that would be grounded in mutual responsibility. village health works seems to me one small example, a model of african and american cooperation , obama's lofty vision embodied in an instrument of peace. burundi is a country that was torn apart by large geographical differences between two groups of people come the differences that were exaggerated for the advantage of the few. deo has inspired the antidote or the beginning of a potential antidote which focuses on something that unites all of us which is our common vulnerability two gillison injury and are common hope for life. personally, i find this enterprise of his very moving in part because it enjoys
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tremendous support from its local community, especially from the women of the village to have a large say in its operations and i will finish by reading you a short passage from there the end of my book. this is mostly deo speaking. >> king at a fund-raiser in new york, deo told this story. this past summer we needed some help to make a road that goes to our side possible. a friend of mine told me, deo there's a great belgian construction company that builds roads in burundi and rawandan the congo and i was so excited sigh went to talk to the representative of the company. he sent some of the look of the road and estimated the cost at least 50,000 u.s. dollars. not to pave the road buchass to widen it and make it possible. i went back frustrated, wondering how to sell the hutu community this bad news. as i was explaining this one woman with a baby crying on her
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back said to me, you will not pay a penny for this road. we have become-- because we are poor but we are not poor because we are lazy. we will work on this road with their own hands. the next 166 people showed up with pickaxes, machetes and other tools for the one of the volunteers was a woman who came to volunteer with a sick child. when we lifted the baby we saw the baby was sweating. i have the mother why she came to work with a child gets sick and she said to me, when i already lost three children and i know this one is next, with the rest they, come to work here, so is better for me to join others to make my contribution which will help to save someone else's child it will be sick but a life and will have a clinic. the entire road, 6 kilometers long was rebuilt by these people with machetes and close. the same day the road was finished the representative of the belgian vote construction company called me to negotiate the price. you can imagine how i felt to
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get that call from him. i said to him, thank you so much for your call but it is already done. he was obvious he was shocked and said to me, what dieumene? who did it? were the only road construction company in the entire region. i said, not anymore. [laughter] [applause] i would like to show you some photographs from burundi. this is the pile of rocks. this is just to give the in the idea. this is an operating room in the district hospital nearest the clinic, the village health works. pretty dreadful. this is a woman with a goiter come easily prevented. i think she has been treated since this.
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terrible. some terrible photos, sorry. i don't know if you can see this. those are burn marks. this boy has a splenomegaly, an enlarged spleen from repeated bouts of malaria and it is very painful. what parents have traditionally done in burundi and rwanda, poor parents is to heat a pipe on the fire ants to make burns around the painful spot. deo's father did that to him once when he had an abscess. it is a horrifying form of palliation but all that is available and has been all that is available to many people. deo made much of his philosophically, he called its relieving pain with pain. this is a picture of deo's, many
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of these are pictures of deo's, a woman detained in the hospital. he built iraq into good to meet the minister of health. he got into the ministry of health office and pass the security guard by saying she is the minister's and. the minister will be so glad to see her. [laughter] the policy is still i think, still in place. i am not blaming the current government but nevermind that. this is the typical hut in the village. medieval, really and the woman who lives there lost four of her children to stupak illnesses. things easily prevented and treatable. hear the kids of the village been told yet again that there was going to be a clinic. they were always ready to party. [laughter]
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and here, just in case you thought this was a maid that story coming here the people going to work on the road and a woman who was working on the road. and more working on the road. got a little carried away here. a common sight in poor countries. this is the beginnings of the clinic. hear the kids, the pitching in. this is a 50,000 wieder water tank with its own internal filtration made in germany that is no supplying clean water to the entire village and a bigger village down the hill. this is a piece of the clinic but it is much bigger now in getting bigger even now. as we speak, they are building what will be the first, the
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first maternity clinic in all of burundi. sorry about that picture. that was a picture that for some reason doesn't come out of the production end of the demonstration gardens that theories volunteers and local people have created, both to feed the millionaires and also to try to improve local agricultural practices. this is the first electricity ever in this village. the money came from a generous american and the installation was made by a nonprofit organization called the solar electric light fund, it is 10 kilowatts of power. this is the training of community health workers and that is paul former's wife with her back to us. just the typical do you in the morning outside of the clinic. the pharmacy, the lab technician. these are all pictures of deo's.
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there is paul farmer, treating a patient from the clinic who had been transported to the capitol, a little boy with tuberculosis. this is an american doctor who gave up his practice for a year to just go and work there for free, another friend of deo's. this note-- this is the burundi and doctor who is in charge there, a fine doctor and this little boy was an abandoned child, someone working in it the clinic found him brought him back there and i'm not current on this now but for a time he was certainly a ward of the place, but he was severely malnourished in this picture. here he is after word. all they did was eat him mostly. isn't he cute? this is a picture from, looking
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down from the clinic on to the lake. this is another one of my pictures and here's the pitch. thank you very much. i would be glad to answer questions if there is time and if you have any. thank you. [applause] are we doing questions? yes maam. [inaudible] >> the population of burundi, no one is absolutely sure but somewhere along the order of seven to 8 million, maybe more but roughly the same size as haiti and rwanda, its neighbor to the north. inver ready? dr-- partners and health is working in rwanda on a huge project there, but he has been
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lending support to deo's project in burundi. partners and held his given them assistance in every conceivable department. >> my name is stephanie and@รบ documentary in writing and i just wanted to know how did you ask paul farmer to follow him around, even to read his travels to miami in france? one of the things that stuck out to me and helped me pitch to get
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money, like we did bake sales in schools, and there are women who were like, i might die in their remember something you wrote in your book saying like, we have the luxury to say we are on a diet. when there are people who can't even eat. sorry. i this one to ask, how did you get to follow paul former? >> i met him, i was doing an article for the "new yorker" magazine in haiti but american soldiers and i ran into him and i got interested in him, although six years past, i kept vague track of him for those six years and i think it is odd to me that i didn't pursue him right away because he was so clearly interested, but i think i was shocked by haiti. and i think when i came back, i spent a lot of time and energy
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trying to reconcile the that that they be with my own privileged american life, trying to hang on to my conviction that i had learned all of my privileges and the problem of course with an idea like that, it falls apart the minute you ask if, what if i had been born haitian? i think i knew from the start if i started following this guy around if you let me, he would disturb my peace of mind. anyway, somewhere around 2000, late 1999 i got in touch with him, and he invited me to come and see him at the hospital in boston and then he invited me to spend, to follow him around for a month and i did an article about him. i later learned, and then after that i asked for access to go on and write a book, which he granted although it took him awhile to agree to do that. i don't think he really wanted
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this, but what i have heard since then is that some of his closest colleagues, ophelia adel in jim young can, when i propose the profile said something to the effect, we are broke his usual and not enough people know about this work. wadah he take a chance? so that is pretty much the long-winded answer but thank you. >> there are nights where me and my executive board, there's six people doing this whole college wide defense and sometimes it got so systematic over a span of eight months trying to convince people, trying to raise awareness and we just always referred to your book, so i'm really glad you wrote it and gave me the opportunity so thank you. >> thank you. [applause] >> a tough act to follow. oe great presentation, great
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slides and i just wanted to know, beyond writing a check and sending it to this address, which of course is a noble and good thing to do, can you get into what you could consider two to three short-term and long-term solutions that might be applicable to reversing the problems on this continent? >> on the continent of africa? [laughter] >> let's, let's make it more to your specific country or what the grameen bank style microfinance do anything, or whatever you suggest? >> i'm not a great expert in this. i do think that international aid as it is currently practice is so filled with flaws, but it is just horrifying in some ways, the amount of money that never gets to the people it is supposed to get to, and that needs to be reformed very badly it seems to me. that would be helpful, but
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obviously that is not the whole answer and i don't think there's anyone whole answer to any of these problems. sometimes i think it is a big mistake to look at them into big of a form. i remember ophelia told me a story from long ago when she was 18 and she was in haiti. she was looking at port-au-prince out of this huge slum and ophelia felt this wave of hopelessness. i didn't see how they could begin to do anything to fix these problems. paul put his hand on the shoulder and said let's see what we can do in one little place, so they started their and now they treat a six of the country and yep partnerships with everyone who will be partners with them. i think maybe is a general principle, i should shut up pretty soon because i don't know too much about this but i do think there's a real problem with the integration, the lack of integration among the various
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projects. there's something on the order of 10,000 ngo's, non-governmental, private organizations working in haiti and look to the results. it is terrific. that might be a clue that there's something wrong with the way this thing done and one of the things that is clary-- clearly wrong is the lack of integration. until it has deforestation every significant rainstorm a continue to drum of the people. thank you. [applause] >> if there are no more questions mr.. we will
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>> craig shirley author of "reagan's revolution" recounts reagan's 1980 campaign. mr. shirley follows his defeat from 1976 to his election over incumbent president jimmy carter. the ronald reagan presidential library in simi valley, california is the host of this hour-long event. >> all right. now, craig and i are going to do something -- hopefully you will find fun rather than him getting up and giving a long 30-minute speech

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